lunes, 29 de diciembre de 2008
I first met Elisa Loyo almost 20 years ago. She must have been around 7 years old at the time. I remember seeing her on TV when my friend Lucía told me that her sisters were going to be on a kiddie game show.
Then I didn't see her again for ages. I knew that she had moved to Canada with her mother. We talked once or twice on the net as she was getting into culinary school. Then a couple years ago she went to my hometown. She helped me with a small cocktail I was making and then went along to one of my classes. She told me she was going off to Paris for a stage at Taillevent.
Last time I heard of her, she was off to work at the Fontana Leisure Parks & Casino Hotel just north of Manila.
Elisa went missing a few days ago and on friday night I received an e-mail about her passing. Details are sketchy and there is an "official" bullshit version (supported by the Hotel itself) that states that she took her life. Her family believes that she may have been tortured and murdered for trying to straighten up some theft that was going on her working place.
Our thoughts and prayers go to Elisa's family. I hope that truth is found in this case where someones's life was cut short at just 25 for trying to do things right, but in the state that the Philippines are now. It seems a long shot.
martes, 23 de diciembre de 2008
jueves, 11 de diciembre de 2008
I had a chance to see the Horno 3 museum show yesterday, and it left my head filled with thoughts.
First up, I was amazed by the complexity of the steel oven operation. I guess that's something one should try to see at least once. It's a bit of a shame that the place closed down, but it's a blessing, for the local government has really outdone itself with the museum. It has given us a chance to experience a piece of Monterrey history.
The oven operated at about 1100ºC, and people there would stand just a couple feet away while going about their business. It left me thinking because we are in a business that has inherent risks such as fire, heat and sharp objects. But seeing yesterday's show left me thinking that we're a bunch of sissies if we complain about the rough conditions we work in. After all, these guys were probably risking their lives at something like minimum wage.
The show includes a lot of testimonials from former oven workers. The very first thing one hears is a poem written by a shift supervisor from the late sixties. Hearing the poem made me realize the awful state our current education system is in. Here you have a shift supervisor deftly weaving phrases into a poem that many modern-day graduate school people would have a hard time not only writing, but understanding. Secretary of Education, you've got a TON of work to do.
The testimonials also serve as evidence of something. These people LOVED their job. It's very frustrating as a teacher to see so many people try to get into our business because they've been blinded by the media or because they dream of fame. But there's very little passion. They're uninterested and apathetic. Most of them leave the kitchen and stop thinking about it. I've seen the same in many High Schools and Universities around town. Kids don't seem to care about much these days.
domingo, 23 de noviembre de 2008
I recently attended one of those dinners where everyone’s supposed to bring something. Curiously when the idea of getting together came up, I was just commenting on the dinner I made a couple weeks back. So they asked me for dessert.
I mulled the idea for different desserts, but since I wanted to give them something that wouldn’t keep me in the kitchen a long time, I went for panna cotta, as I could simply put it in to a disposable vessel.
After pondering many ideas, and seeing I had some pears left in my fridge. I thought about making a honey panna cotta with a pear compote. My wife also wanted to incorporate anise and dried fruits into the mix, so the final idea became: Honey and Pear Panna Cotta; Star Anise, Muscovado and
For my Buddy Adrián, I’ll post the recipe:
Honey Pear Panna Cotta
600ml. Whipping Cream
200 ml. Pear and Honey Purée (Follows)
5g Gelatin Sheets, bloomed.
For the Pear and Honey Purée
4 small Pears, peeled, cored and quartered.
4 tbsps Honey.
To make the purée, heat the honey in a sauté pan until hot and bubbly. Arrange the pears on the honey. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until desired color and texture, moving occasionally. Cool.
Mix the cooled purée with the cream and bring to a boil. Add the gelatin and mix to dissolve. Pour the mixture into molds and refrigerate until set.
Star Anise, Muscovado and
115g Muscovado Sugar
4 Pods Star Anise
½ Cups Raisins
Bring the star anise, muscovado and water to a boil. Pour over the raisins and let them steep. When the raisins are soft, remove from the syrup. Reduce the syrup to desired consistency and return the raisins. Add the
Cut bacon into small strips. Place in a cold sauté pan and bring over a low flame. Allow the fat to render and turn heat up to medium. Sauté until crispy and browned. Place over paper towel to remove excess fat.
Freeze the bacon, weigh and grind. I’m sure some liquid Nitrogen or Tapioca Maltodextrin would’ve made this last step easier, but alas I have none.
On a small pot, place the same amount as the bacon of glucose and sugar. Heat up until it forms a dark caramel and add the same amount of cold butter in small pieces and the bacon. Stir well and pour over a silicone mat. Allow to cool and break it into shards or cut into shapes before it’s completely cooled down.
To serve, place some raisins and syrup on top of the panna cotta. Decorate with the nougatine.
I used plastic test tubes.
jueves, 20 de noviembre de 2008
It's known that sound is an important factor in setting the atmosphere where customers will enjoy our products. Usually the biggest problem is noise, busy restaurants become noisy places and the experience might be hindered. I've had good meals become modest meals because of either extremely noisy ambiances or, yes, bad music.
If you're spending a significant amount of your paycheck at arguably the best restaurant in town, you don't want your ears booming with the electronic pulses of the latest pop band (let alone their hollering).
So the question is, what music do we eat by?
Laurent Gras had his own music made...
domingo, 2 de noviembre de 2008
We're just starting to relax from the last event and next one's already up. This time it's being hosted by Tri-2-cook. The challenge: Apricot and Chanterelle.
Martin has already posted a bit on the chemical information involved in the pairing and I did some searching of my own. A word of warning though, on the Good Scents people don't list "chanterelle" specifically so the search is for component matches between mushrooms and apricots. This comes somewhat handy as I believe chanterelles are a bit tough to come by in this area.
I'm already cooking up some ideas...
I had the ideas, the ingredients ready, and all of a sudden all hell breaks loose and I didn't have the time to get this one done on time.
The idea I had was to make caramelized bananas sprinked with clove. For some reason I couldn't let it rest there and had to go and make things complicated. Thus I came with the idea for making a Roquefort 40-second cake. I had read about this in a few blogs and finally took the recipe from Linda at playing with fire and water (which y'all should read if you aren't already).
I followed her recipe verbatim just substituting the chocolate for melted Roquefort cheese. Speaking of the technique itself, it really is all that and more. It's quite interesting to see the batter rise in the microwave. I believe that roquefort was a little bit too fatty for the recipe because the final product was not as spongy as the ones in Linda's blog.
Tasting it was a whole different experience. Just out of the microwave the cake appeared almost salty and with a lot of cheese aroma. It wasn't the taste I was looking for. Colder however, the sweetness came out and it was just what I had in mind. Unfortunately, the texture also changed rendering it a little chewy.
The caramelized bananas, due to my time constraint had to become a purée. The bananas had become incredibly soft during the couple of extra resting days they had (I had bought them pretty much ready to use on the same day). It was quite a straighforward thing: I ground some cloves, heated some butter, added muscovado sugar, ground clove and let it come together; I then added the bananas and cooked until soft; the whole thing was then processed to a smooth paste (with some speckles of clove there). The purée tasted quite good, with the aroma of the cloves really coming forward and marrying itself with the banana.
I tasted the whole dish twice, once with the hot cake and a second one with a colder one. The first one wasn't too enjoyable, because of the aformentioned reasons (cake). Colder, it was very good. I believe the taste combination has potential to develop some other desserts, perhaps using more traditional means.
A final Head's up: The next TGRWT is already up!
jueves, 16 de octubre de 2008
Cuitlacoche and Goat Cheese Chausson
Indio Beer and honey Braised Spare Ribs
Oyster Mushroom and Chorizo Sauté
Chai Leche Frita
Rhum-raisin and pine nut sauce
Caramel-apple Ice cream.
Hopefully my wife will be around to take pictures this time as I always neglect to do so...
viernes, 3 de octubre de 2008
Martin from Khymos is back with TGRWT! Since it's been a while, I'll re-cap it briefly. TGRWT or "They go really well together" is a blogging event where two items are paired into a probably unsual combination, based on flavor pairings via volatile compound similarities... Sounds complicated. Basically it means that those two items have similar chemical compounds and thus, should be able to be paired with good results.
This time, it's banana and cloves. While it doesn't sound too alien for me to have these two together, it's now up to me to "play"...
viernes, 26 de septiembre de 2008
Wine Tasting Menu:
Doña Paula "Los Cardos"
Cold Roast Beef filet Crostini
Red Onion Compote
Côtes du Rhône
Angus Sirloin Hamburger on Brioche
Winsconsin Blue Cheese
Doña Paula Estate
Duck Confit and Tomato Tatin
Ribera del Duero
Peanut Praline Vinaigrette
Oyster Mushroom and Escargot Aumoniere
Roast Garlic Polenta with Goat Milk Butter
"Strawberries and Cream"
Balsamic Strawberry Crumble
White Pepper Ice Cream
martes, 23 de septiembre de 2008
lunes, 15 de septiembre de 2008
martes, 9 de septiembre de 2008
lunes, 25 de agosto de 2008
Of course, that a lot of the food that finally gets put on plates is either decided by owners or some consulting chef they hired for a while. And the "chef" is just some guy hired to execute said recipes. While this is logical where the figure of the Chef-owner exists, there is still no recognition for the guy on the line.
Jean-Francois Piege, is one of the examples of what a Chef de cuisine becomes in a cultured environment. He was, after all, just the chef under one of the culinary gods of our era: Alain Ducasse. For a while there, I thought he was one of the best in Paris. One day, he surprises us all by leaving ADPA to take the kitchens of the Crillon, where he's striving to reach the third macaron.
In our town, there's no way in hell that Chef John Doe, who simply mans the stoves at Restaurant X, will ever get lured out of his succesful cuisine to take charge of a new place. Experience running a restaurant will just make you an able cook to run another kitchen somewhere else in the eyes of employers. Why hire a chef, why pay big (not really) money to someone for a job that's not even necessary.
Food here isn't about the epicurean, organoleptic or intellectual experience. It's about the social part of the meal, about being seen in the trendy spot in town. So why even give a damn about what I'm eating, how I'm eating it and much less, about who created and prepped? There is no place for the culinary artist here, even in the better restaurants. I have to get out of here
martes, 5 de agosto de 2008
jueves, 31 de julio de 2008
One of the habits that have come with the increased use of hydrocolloids in restaurant kitchens is reading labels in the supermarket. If you've never done it, you'll be surprised to find "new" ingredients as Xanthan, Gellan, Alginates and others in your everyday diet (Unless you eat really healthy and natural, that is).
On a recent visit to a friends house, I picked up the can of Baby Formula and was pretty impressed to run into Taurine in one of the ingredients. No wonder mothers complain kids these days are so active...
I know that I should have written to the people over at Mead Johnson to ask about this, but I haven't made the time for this...
miércoles, 23 de julio de 2008
Celebrating our anniversary with a recent trip, my wife and I visited the beautiful city of Querétaro. One of Mexico's UNESCO protected cities. In the Cinco de Mayo walkway, we came across a sign that grabbed my attention so hard, it practically pulled me in: Tacos de Chapulines (yes, that's grasshopper tacos).
It had been a while since I last had chapulines, so the Oaxaca-inspired taqueria/cantina was a nice place for a meal. The place was quite eye-catching, but then again, in a city where most buildings are considered cultural heritage, that's not the hard part.
We started off immediately with a couple of the tacos de chapulines and while we drank our beers, the waiters brouught our treats. It was a beautiful, simple thing: one tortilla laid on the plate with chunks of avocado, pieces of pork rind and a good handful of the little critters. Add a good spoonful of salsa and we were ready to dig in.
If you've never had the little buggers. Let me give you a very poor description of what it's like: Crunchy, salty with a hint of acid and spice. That's because they're so deeply fried that crunchy's all that's left and they are later seasoned with chili and lime juice. Still, it was a very good taste along with the pork rind and avocado chunks. How good, well, well enough to rate as one of the best tacos I've ever eaten. I've even gone to get me some chapulines at an artisan fair to reproduce these sometime this week...
Just this Monday, I receive what's to be my "new" book for our new First Semester concept: 'La Cuisine de Reference', now in Spanish. As I started browsing the book, I came upon a foreword from one of my former teachers in France: Chef Franck Petagna.
Meilleur Ouvrier de France since 2000, Chef Petagna worked in the Hotel Martinez, in Cannes, the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz. In 2001 Chef Petagna joined the staff of the Institut Paul Bocuse, and was later appointed Coordinator of Culinary Programs.
About a year ago, I received an e-mail informing me of the passing of Chef Franck Petagna. It was shocking to receive such news as he seemed in such good health. I was wrong, Chef Petagna had lost his battle against Leukemia.
Wherever you are Chef: Thanks.
Photo Credit: Thuries Magazine
viernes, 16 de mayo de 2008
Simply put, it was just mussels and their cooking juices. Those juices however, were delicious. The chefs at Genoma nailed a nice combo mixing mexican chilies with coconut milk. It was the priciest soup on their menu (which can be understood, because of the mussels) but it was definitely worth it. If my wife wasn't allergic to coconut, I would've had it more often. Alas, it's off the menu now.
Another "regular" is their Roast tomato soup with fried feta and pesto. Sure, it's a simple soup, but it's the best tomato soup in this town. Hands down. This has become my wife's favorite soup and she will have it every time we're there.
Genoma also features an onion soup dubbed: Three Onion soup. I haven't had a taste of this one since... well it's soupe a l'oignon. I'll just give you the description: Red, White and Green onion soup with gruyere and baguette.
Recently (I think) Genoma has added a prix-fixe menu that's an excellent value with very good meal choices. It's from that menu that I've had my most recent soup choices, and they've been all so good
First up, Curried Mussel Cream with fried mussels, and apple. I think this is my favorite version of a dish including mussels and curry. It used to be a regular combination in our residence hall repertoire at IPB, but Genoma's soup was much more delicate and elegant. So much I should probably be ashamed at not coming up with something.
Finally, the most recent addition to the Genoma Repertoire: Tortilla Soup. The mexican classic is most often found in it's original state. I had seen a spin off this in a Regional restaurant in Saltillo that while good, it wasn't great. Genoma's doesn't try to distance itself from the original so much but manages to to leave an impression. It consists of a richer, thicker soup that's a far cry from the usual broth. The soup however is much tastier. As for the accoutrements, they're the classic tortilla chips. This time, they're multicolored and cut in a julienne that makes it also much easier to eat.
If you're ever around, stop by Genoma, even if it's just for the soup.
On an unrelated note: Go Foie Gras! Kudos to Chicago!
lunes, 12 de mayo de 2008
Tomato and Watermelon
12 yr. Balsámico
Almond Citrus crusted Bassa
Whole wheat spaghetti
Chocolate and Caramel Mousse.
I miss TGRWT events...
lunes, 14 de abril de 2008
Jicama and Cucumber Salad (Inspired by Tetsuya)
Añejo cheese sauce
Baked Salmon in Ancho adobo.
Maple-Chipotle Carrot puree
Semi-cured, grilled nopal.
Pecan praline sauce.
... and it was good.
I even think this one was better than the risotto.
martes, 1 de abril de 2008
This time I only had a couple of ideas and none too complicated. Still I went for the easiest one.
#10 is about combining Pineapple and Blue Cheese. Heston Blumenthal seems to have pointed this one out at a list at eGullet sometime back. My Ideas were:
a) Meat Course: Involving Pork, coconut and blue cheese... somehow.
b) Dessert: Pineapple Crisp Millefeuille with Blue Cheese cream and a "liquid" pineapple center. Caramel sauce or Ice Cream.
I really don't know when the thought for the drink came up. Probably a flashback to the college days when Vodka and Pineapple juice were sometimes quaffed at clubs. Vodka led to the Cheesecake Factory's Dirty Martini, which involves blue cheese stuffed olives.
So I came up with the idea of mixing Vodka, pineapple juice and brine. It went roughly like this:
1 Part Pineapple Juice
1 Part Vodka
1 Dash Olive Brine.
After a bit of shaking I dropped it into a glass and went for the taste. I loved the almost spicy combination of the vodka, brine and pineapple juice, and I think it was very good with the blue cheese stuffed olives. While my wife decided she'd rather have it sweetened, I would rather opt for a dash of dry vermouth... and more olives.
I re-made the concoction for the post and hit a roadblock... I forgot my martini glasses. So I improvised using a quadruple shot glass:
I encourage you few readers to go ahead and try this drink... I'm sure I will repeat it.
P.S. New camera is in order... finally!
sábado, 1 de marzo de 2008
In the book, Bau marries anise-smoked rack of pork with milk chocolate in a risotto. I wasn't quite sure of what it included except for basic risotto ingredients, pork and chocolate. So I set out to make my version of this risotto.
I started out by rendering bacon fat, and letting it cook in it until crispy. I used that same fat to sweat my onions. Added the rice, then I changed the white wine for cream sherry. After that it was pretty much a regular cooking until the moment of mantecare. I replaced the butter for dark chocolate (my bad), and added the parmesan. Served in bowls and topped with the bacon.
I didn't have a nice bowl at hand since I did this at a cousin's place. I also have to excuse myself for the terrible picture. Our camera is broken and I had to resort to the nasty cellphone camera.
The tasting could be classified as a success since both my cousin and his wife completely ate their bowls, and seemed to have enjoyed it. Personally I think it could've used some improvements such as an older Parmiggiano in order to get a sharper cheese note. It was so delicate that it seemed like an afterthought in comparison with the powerful chocolate. Probably a stronger, spicier stock as Bau's would've made another difference, but since this was about chocolate and parmesan, I kept it simple. It was good, but not perfect... and I couldn't help thinking about Cocoa Krispies.
I also wanted to experiment with a Parmesan cheesecake and a chocolate-balsamic-berry sauce, or a Mexican Chocolate Tartlet with Parmesan Ice Cream, but those only stayed as Ideas for future play.
Edit: This event was hosted by Robert @ lamiacucina. Final roundup's here
martes, 19 de febrero de 2008
It's on again! This time it's being hosted by Robert @ lamiacucina. The flavor combination is Parmesan and Chocolate/cocoa.
At first I thought of Masaharu Morimoto's recipe. But Martin had already published that one back in the days of the first TGRWT. Another interesting find is Francesco Schintu's lasagna recipe. But I don't think I'll be working along the lines of any of them.
I would like to include a third element into the combination. Morimoto's added prosciutto and Schintu's include, well pretty much everything that's in pesto. Honestly basil's not a terrible idea.
According to the old google search, other possible ingredients include pork, beef, hazelnut, potato and others.
Another source for inspiration, is obviously foodpairing.
miércoles, 6 de febrero de 2008
As far as I could grasp, Kocinaperitivo is not quite a cuisine philosophy as much as a service and drinking concept. The restaurant has a theme drink for the day and food's supposed to be paired with it, also food's served in the center of the table for sharing while quafing the bar's concoctions.
We arrived to La Leche at our scheduled reservation time, and found the place totally empty. Being an entirely white locale, it looked even emptier, despite the five or six persons staffing it. Service was friendly and attentive (at least until some other clients, known to our waitress showed up). She explained to us that the spirit of the day was Gin and they had four cocktails classified according to the moment we were supposed to drink them.
First up was the "Before" cocktail, a mixture of grape juice, lemon, gin and curacao. The "during" one was cranberry, lemon and gin. For an "After" drink they carried a Kahlua, coconut and gin mix and finally, for the "Party" they announced the "martini" of cucumber, gin and dark creme de cacao. We only had the first two, I found the first one a bit too sweet and tangy. I couldn't find a hint of the gin. Next up the "During" was a bit more balanced, but still on the sweet side. Not a bad drink but not quite something I would've paired with the meal.
For starters we had "Capri Roll" and Ravioli in Meat Jus. Capri roll was poorly treated goat cheese smothered in pesto. It was dry and crumbly but tasted fine. The ravioli were filled with chicken mousse and brie and came swimming in a dark meat broth. The mousse was tough and chewy and the brie was MIA. The broth was a bit too salty but overall, the dish had a decent taste to it.
Our mains were Salmon in Fava Cream and Chipotle Duck. The server asked me how I wanted the salmon "From seared rare to well done", I wanted it medium. The duck, medium as well. The salmon came bordering on well done, it was well seasoned and the fava cream was excellent. The duck came spot on as far as the temperature and the chipotle syrup was also excellent.
My grudge as far as the mains, relates to the garnishes and plating. The garnishes were pretty much the same for both dishes: roughly mashed potato and vegetable julienne. They came slightly warm instead of piping hot, for one of the "Nicest restaurants in Mexico", they were lacking. As for the plating, I feel that the plating didn't embrace the idea that this is food meant to be shared. The duck had to be awkwardly sliced by us and the mash was so "rustic" that it was impossible to get a decently sized bite from it without spending a lifetime fiddling with it.
For dessert we opted not to have drinks. My wife had lemonade and I asked for sparking water. They were out of Perrier, which was good, because I'm not too huge on it. They were also out of Pellegrino. They left me with only Topo Chico, and not the nice, new, table version. So no, thanks. Again, the hyped place fell short.
Choices for dessert were utterly lacking creativity: Creme Brulee, Brownie and Chocolate Mousse. Our server told us the mousse was extremely rich in flavor. So we had it along with the creme brulee. Again, I was disappointed. The Creme brulee had a perfect caramel shell on top, a nice taste but an awful texture. It was so overcooked it resembled scrambled eggs. The mouse was so rich in flavor it was sinful. Also a sin was its texture, it was a hard, grainy, block of chocolate.
In the end, it was a good dinner for this town, the price was fair, except for the extremely poor craftmanship on the desserts. I've paid more for creme brulee, ($12 bucks at a Ritz Carlton), but theirs was flawless while this eight buck one, should've at least had a better texture, or a hint of real vanilla bean.
Maybe I'd come back to this place, maybe I won't. It's definitely not ranking up among my town favorites.
jueves, 31 de enero de 2008
At first I had thought up of a fish dish that would be a spin-off of Alain Senderens' Homard a la vanille. I have it written down somewhere. Sometime later, the idea for an "edible cocktail" came to mind, based on the idea that vodka and caviar also go well together. So, without further ado here it is:
White Chocolate and Caviar "Martini"
250 mL White Chocolate Liqueur
250mL Vanilla infused Vodka
10 g gelatin sheets (4.7%)
The idea is to set the different liquids in layers, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Top with a small quenelle of caviar.
I hope to actually get to make this one sometime...
lunes, 21 de enero de 2008
Adrián has dedicated part of his life to researching about Mexican food. He's gathered a wealth of recipes from the diferent regions of the country. When creating plates for the Fonda, he'll usually take the original recipe then give it a twist. A fine example would be his Smoked corn soup. It's basically, as the name suggests smoked corn broth into which cured cacahuazintle corn is added for garnish. The result is a surprising flavor that still manages to be familiar.
The rest of his dishes complete the range for appetizers, antojitos, and main courses. As an added bonus, he features a weekly menu to keep things fresh.
Something else that sets Chef Herrera apart from others in the city, is according to his own words: "I don't only sell food, I sell stories". Adrián is frequently seen in the dining room entertaining his patrons. A word of caution though, sometimes his stories might be a bit far from the truth, but incredibly fun nonetheless.
If you're ever in town, don't miss the Fonda de San Francisco. Or in case someone looking for a talented Mexican cuisine specialist is reading: Invest in this guy!
jueves, 10 de enero de 2008
Roasted Red Peppers
Roasted Veal Loin
Sautéed Oyster Mushrooms
Sauteed Granny Smith Apples
lunes, 7 de enero de 2008
I'm back from a trip to Europe: Amsterdam, Lübeck, Prague, Berlin and Hamburg. Lots of food, wine and beer. Lot's of sights.
Once I get things organized I'll try to report on some of the things that we ate.